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20 October 2017

The world's largest gingerbread house - a recipe for success

By Sergio Jimenez

The world’s largest gingerbread house was made in Bryan Texas by Texas A&M Traditions Club in 2013.

While not on the same engineering scale as the Pyramids or The Great Wall of China what this feat did display was a tremendous amount of planning, project management, HACCP control and people management, as well demonstrating excellent measures of success and return on investment.

The questions I would ask are:

  • Was this great feat achieved by the above?
  • Was it luck?
  • Or, did they have a compliance management system behind them, guiding their every move

Let’s break down the project step by step and look at what we learn from a food and drink management perspective.

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Step 1: The Gingerbread House Project: - Objectives, tactics and strategy (OTS) the below points are essential elements for any successful project:

  • Clear objectives
  • Focused targets
  • Awareness of resources
  • Approval process
  • Planned tactics
  • A set timeline
  • Budgets
  • Stakeholder communication
  • ROI

All of these aspects needed input from stakeholders and people in authority. There also had to be communication between a number of parties on the value of the project and how it would be managed.

Step 2: The Gingerbread House Itself: - Supply of materials and ingredients

For the building they weren’t using bricks and mortar, instead edible ingredients were used, in fact, the combination of baking ingredients and sweets meant the construction totalled 35,823,400 calories!

It’s important to ensure the quality of the building materials were maintained, this meant the right suppliers would have to be chosen and quality products maintained throughout the supply.

Step 3: The Gingerbread House Itself: - Rules and Regulations

As we learned from the original article, the gingerbread house was big, very big. 234 sqm big. The size of a five-person family home. And as with building any home, there are rules and regulations that would have been necessary to follow or adhere to, as well as some unique ones considering the building materials to be used.

Step 4: The Finished Product: - Return on Investment

How would the success of this project be measured? How would ROI be realised and measured? What was the end objective?  For the house, it was breaking a record and raising money for charity.

Project management

Good project management is the building blocks to any project or gingerbread house.  Complex projects can often perform better with an electronic management system supporting the whole project team.  Paper and excel based systems can fail to provide up-to-date information or lapse on controls.

What considerations would need to be taken into account for this project?  I have listed what I think are the essentials in any project of this size and then how our electronic system, Q-Pulse, can help deliver success:


Risk Assessing the overall project  - slips, trips and falls

  • By using the occurrence reporting module, Q Pulse could help identify and report on potential risks and then manage these through dedicated workflows.
  • These risks could then be audited on an ongoing basis and the inherent and residual risks tracked through the project.

Controlled documentation - Procedures

  • By using the documents module, a range of controlled and managed documents could be created and distributed to the relevant personnel with the capability of managing the full approval, acknowledgement, change control and review process.
  • By using the mobile app, documents could also be taken offline and on the move.

Reporting of Tasks and Incidents – Near misses

  • Using the occurrence reporting module, the tasks could be generated and allocated to the relevant personnel and managed through a customer managed workflow, being risk assessed throughout.

Health and Safety of the Workers – Manual handling

  • Through the use of the asset module it could have been ensured that the workers knew they were using safe, calibrates and/or maintained equipment.
  • Through the use of the people and training modules, it could have been ensured that all personnel had clearly identified training plans and that all trained and non-trained personnel could be tracked.
  • Renewable training requirements would also be tracked and communicated.
  • Training events

Critical Control Points Identification and Tracking – Ingredient mixing

  • Through the auditing module, CCPs could be audited and any issues against their controls are related to these controls. The findings could then be risk rated and managed through dedicated workflows.
  • The audits/tracking could also be performed using the mobile app.
  • Critical Control Points would have included.

Supply Chain Management – Quality of products supplied

  • Supplier Performance, Non-Conformances raised and supplier Cost of Quality could all be managed through the CA/PA and Incidents modules.

Measures of Success – Completion date

  • Through the use of the occurrences and incidents modules, all completed tasks could be measured to ensure awareness of all objectives being achieved and officially signed off.

As we know, good project management is essential in any large project, it’s the internal beams in our gingerbread house, without it collapses.  Communication, control and process are some of the key elements.

To find out more about how our quality and safety solutions can benefit your organisations please click here.

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